Monthly Archives: September 2012
Another weekend has ended, another week has started, and another event is done and dusted.
The signing at Dymocks Southland turned out to be a lot of fun. I had a table set up at the front of the store and got the chance to chat with people as they came in. Quite a few people who’d never heard of Vanguard Prime before walked away with a copy of the book (signed, of course!), and even better than that was all the support that was expressed for Aussie authors and the publishing industry in general. Thanks so much to store owner Jerome for the opportunity! If you guys get the chance, make sure to drop by the store and check it out.
Vanguard Prime: Goldrush has had three more reviews this week, the first (and worst) of which was written by…well, me. Let me explain. You see, in addition to being an awesome writer, Jack Heath is also really supportive of new authors. After I mentioned how influential Third Transmission was in the writing of Goldrush, Jack got in touch with me and we ended up hanging out. What a nice guy!
Cut to last week, where (or should that be ‘when’?) I got an email from Jack saying how he was asking various authors if they’d be interested in reviewing their own books, much as he did for his latest book, Dead Man Running. It was a daunting challenge to say the least, but one that I couldn’t possibly turn down. It proved to be a struggle, trying to walk the line between honest self-analysis, neurotic self-flagellation, and blatant self-promotion. Hopefully you’ll agree that I struck a decent balance.
A far more glowing review came from Vic and her blog, Mummy Ate Me. Any review that starts off with “I LOVED this book!” always heads straight to the top of the pile of favourite reviews. But! Vic may have been beaten out by the third and final review I received this week. This one came from 9-year-old Ethan, who actually took the time to do a review of Vanguard Prime: Goldrush…in diorama form! Thankfully, Ethan sent through some pictures and has given me permission to share them here.
For those who can’t make out what the text says, Ethan also generously provided a typed-out version. It says; “The Vanguard Prime team lives in a aircraft carrier with a prison on board and lots of aircraft. The characters of Vanguard Prime are super heroes. My favorite character is Ethan or the Knight of Wands. My other two favourites are Goldrush and Machina. The last of them is Agent Alpha, Gaia and Major Blackthorne. My favourite power is Machina’s. She can control technology. The bad guy is really hard to beat because stuff with his mind. His name is the Overman. Another is called Cronus and he is strong. He has a helmet with a horn.”
I honestly don’t think I could have summarised the book better myself.
If that wasn’t cool enough, Ethan also sent through the very first piece of fan art I’ve received! You may notice that the diorama contains an illustration of the Knight of Wands, but in addition to that Ethan provided this drawing of Goldrush;
Very big thanks to Ethan; it’s reader mail like this that keeps authors writing! And if anyone else out there has some Vanguard Prime art they’d like to share, make sure to send it through (along with what name you’d like it credited to) and I’ll post it here on the blog.
‘Til next time.
At the start of the year, just as we were about to start the editing process for Vanguard Prime: Goldrush, I was asked if I’d be interested in doing a freelance copywriting job. I was a little concerned about biting off more than I could chew, given that in addition to editing Goldrush I also had Book 2 in the series to write, as well as a full-time job. But the opportunity was way too exciting to turn down, so I said ‘Yes’, and now Party! The Ultimate Kids’ Party Book has been released!
My contribution to the book was fairly minimal, though it turned out to be a lot of fun. I wrote the introduction to the book and for each section, where ideas are outlined for throwing the perfect kids’ party. Basically, I got the chance to see how many puns I could cram into a piece of writing before making the publisher’s head explode.
And speaking of the publisher, you can watch Mary avoiding Larry Emdur’s efforts to tape up the studio on The Morning Show with Larry and Kylie. Don’t worry, that’ll make sense when you see the clip (note: tried to embed video. Failed).
In addition to all this writing and working stuff, my fiance Simone and I have also been building a house. The original completion date was March 2013, but after speaking to the builder this week it’s looking more likely to be ready by mid-November. As in, eight weeks from now. We’re also getting married in December – which is never a stressful thing to organise in itself – so adding a house move into the mix seems like a genius idea. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! I swear I’m not the 1%! I’m 5%, tops!
Part of the excitement about the new house is the fact that I’ll be getting an office, where I’ll be able to display all my curios and memorabilia (read: toys) and indulge in quiet study and introspective work (write make-believe stories about people who can fly).
Ideally, I’m picturing this is what it’ll look like (plus toys);
Given my track record, however, it’ll end up looking like this (plus toys);
One of the best things about being engaged is that you get to rope your partner into helping you out when you do stuff, which means that Simone will be with me on Saturday for the Dymocks Southland event. Make sure to come by and provide us with any tips you can about hiring movers and packing up your belongings. Or, ya know, I could sign a book for you or something.
‘Til next time.
My post about what I’d learnt from being published generated a bit of interest, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to explore the subject of writing in greater detail. This time, I’m going to outline five pointers I’ve picked up through the study and practice of writing. Hopefully it’ll be of some help…but make sure to heed Point #5, which is probably the most important point of all!
1. Don’t Be Wishy-Washy
I’ve always had an issue with describing action that’s about to happen, rather than the actions themselves. When going through both the proofreading and the editing stages, I do everything I can to remove terms like “seems to”, “try to”, “almost”, “slowly”, and every phrasing that positions the character as passive, rather than active. The fewer qualifiers you use, the stronger your writing will be. Of course, as with all rules this one will sometimes need to be broken, but the trick is to be more conscious of making that choice.
2. Pick a Perspective and Stick to It
Jumping from one character’s point-of-view to another is one of the major hallmarks of a first-time writer, and the faster you jump the more off-putting it can be to your reader. Distinguish for yourself from the onset whose perspective will best serve the story and stick to it. That’s not to say you can’t write things from the point-of-view of an omniscient narrator, but I tend to fit that a POV like that works best in small doses. You can find ways to change perspective if you need to, whether through chapter or paragraph breaks. But avoid switching POVs in the same slab of text.
3. Have Something Happen in Every Chapter
The temptation for a writer is to indulge themselves in description, to fill their stories with rich detail, poetic imagery and unique metaphors. It’s so tempting that you can lose yourself in it, which will often leave readers bored as they slog through all this description to get to the actual story buried underneath. I could write an entry in itself on how description is best used to reflect mood and character, but the main point I want to make is that the way you create momentum in your story – and how you keep the reader engaged – is to make sure that you include at least one notable story development in every chapter. Don’t miss the opportunity to include a new piece of information, a new complication. Which leads to…
4. Pose Questions to Your Reader and Make Sure to Answer Them…Eventually
Every story is essentially a mystery story. It starts with something going wrong (as almost all stories do) and then the central question becomes “How will the character fix this problem?”. But along the way, you can pose a variety of other questions to the reader. One trick is to have the characters reference something or someone, make the reader curious about this person or object, and when the time is right reveal the nature of the subject in question. Make sure to not string out your reveal, however, and always keep track of what information you’ve provided and what you haven’t.
5. Everyone’s Approach is Different
By all means, listen to what the authors you admire have to say, but always remember that there’s no prescribed method of writing. Take the best advice – in other words, the advice that most applies to you – and use it to synthesize your own approach.
‘Til next time.